Planning an Impactful Parks & Recreation Staff Retreat

Planning an Impactful Parks & Recreation Staff Retreat

One of the most significant aspects of any parks and recreation organization is its dedicated team of staff members. As the backbone of your organization, it’s important to ensure that your staff understands that their hard work is appreciated. That's where staff retreats come into play.

In addition to giving your diverse staff members who may otherwise not connect with one another the opportunity to do so, you’ll also create a safe space to express their thoughts in relation to an issue—or set of issues—with greater focus.

Use the retreat as an opportunity to make a difference within your organization while team-building. Looking for staff retreat ideas? Here’s how to plan an impactful parks and recreation staff retreat.

Outline a Goal

No matter what the purpose of your staff retreat is, start with a clearly defined goal. With defined objectives and a desired outcome in mind, it will be easier for you and your team members to plan the details. Your staff retreat ideas should all connect towards one central goal, and make it clear how they will help your team accomplish it.

In the event that you have trouble finding a purpose, consider surveying your team to see what they would like to work towards when they work together. This may include retreat areas to improve on, fostering more interpersonal relationships, brainstorming expansion ideas for your programming, and more.

Planning an Impactful Parks & Recreation Staff Retreat

Share Retreat Details to Facebook Groups

Facebook groups are a great resource for teams to share valuable information, ask questions, and grow together. These groups have become a huge source of organic community content on a platform that is otherwise more commercialized on it's main news feeds; many users enjoy that about using groups for content from other users that they are more likely to actually find interesting.

If your municipality has departments using groups to communicate, share staff retreat details in recurring posts leading up to the retreat to these groups. You can ask an admin to share, or even join the group yourself if you like. The group may be exclusively for users who are team members, but there are bountiful opportunities to promote your team-building retreat directly to the prospects who would benefit from it the most.

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WHITE PAPER: Parks & Rec Software: A Platform to Grow with your Community


Find the Right Space

Staff retreats allows for you and your staff to escape your day-to-day routine, with the benefit of inspiring your team to think outside of the box through team-building activities. Your surroundings can strongly influence and guide your conversations. Beyond finding a good physical space such as a hotel conference room or at a location surrounded by nature, it’s important to consider what sort of psychological space you aim to create.

If you have staff retreat ideas, it's important to document how accessible or what type of space they require. Depending on the purpose of your staff retreat, you may want to harness a relaxing, creative, or comfortable energy. Consider the goals and desired outcomes for your staff retreat and plan from there.

Market A Virtual Retreat Accordingly

One of the best staff retreat ideas for this time in our world is a digital retreat. The upside of digital staff retreats is that they don't require nearly the coordination to plan and execute; everyone is signing on from a computer, so you don't need to reserve a spot at a resort, and the retreat can be held in rain or shine. However, part of the appeal for staff retreats is that teams can take a weekend or week away for career development and get more one-on-one time to work together.

But that doesn't have to be a negative in this case. The fact that it is a digital retreat means that your team members can join from anywhere they have an internet connection. This actually opens up the door for team members to travel somewhere and commit to joining for sessions and team-building activities, but enjoy the rest of their time exploring that space—the way they would if they were at a retreat in person.

Ensuring Inclusivity at Your Parks and Rec Organization

Convey the value to the activities in the retreat clearly

Finally, your staff retreat ideas hold a lot of value in team-building for participants, but it may not be immediately apparent when staff hear the words 'retreat'. Instead, make sure that the most valuable parts of the retreat are up front and centre when promoting it via social media or even by email. This could include:

  1. A special guest speaker with proven credentials and success available to answer questions
  2. Fun group activities with small rewards for winners, such as coffee gift cards or other bonuses
  3. Small gifts for early registrants, or early bird pricing if you are charging for the retreat

There are countless opportunities to place value on small parts of the retreat that equal results in bookings. It may also be helpful to send out a survey after the retreat to see what participants would like to see next time.  

Prepare and Follow Through

To take advantage of the time that you have to work together during the staff retreat, it’s crucial to be prepared so that none of it is wasted. To prepare for team-building, gather any information you can and make sure everything that can be done ahead of time has been completed before the retreat, so that when it comes time for engaging conversations, your team has your full and undivided attention. Remind your team to set their out-of-office messages during the retreat as well, so that they will not be preoccupied by responding to calls and emails.

It’s also beneficial to set clear guidelines for your team to adhere to—which will help staff members stay focused. In addition to keeping your team engaged, immerse yourself in the conversation. Everyone in your organization should be an active participant, so that you can all align towards the same goal.

Conduct A Thorough Event Post-Mortem

After your team-building staff retreat concludes, take every measure possible to follow through with the suggestions and solutions you and your team came up with collaboratively. Review your notes from your team conversations and distribute them to everyone in your organization.

Staff retreats are a great way for staff members to come up with new ideas and possibilities, while helping your team connect on another level. If done right, you can make it a fun and impactful experience for everyone. Whether it’s integrating new technology or growing your team’s dynamic problem solving skills, retreats can make a noticeably positive difference.


Xplor Recreation's Perfect Solution For Recreation Retreats

A retreat can not just be a lot of fun, but they can be a rewarding and educational experience for all team members. Whether your organization is located in one facility, or spread across multiple locations and time zones, Xplor Recreation’s flexible recreation management software can help you effortlessly manage your team.

Xplor Recreation has multiple features for parks and recreation, including:

  1. Staff Management
  2. Email and Communications
  3. Facility / Equipment Rentals
  4. Reporting
  5. Multi-Location Support

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See what Xplor Recreation can do for you